For many women, giving birth is the most special moment they’ll have in their lives – heightened only by the moment their baby is placed on their chest for the first moment of bonding. For some women though, the moment isn’t so magical, and in fact, it can be traumatic – mentally and / or physically. When this “birth trauma” occurs, there may be repercussions that last days, weeks and even years after they have left the birthing suite.
What Is Birth Trauma?
Birth trauma refers to the stress that a mother feels during or after giving birth. Trauma can sometimes show up physically (such as injury), but it can also be an emotional and mental experience that may refer to how you feel, as a mother, afterwards.
According to the Maternity Consumer Network, up to one in three Australian women who have given birth have been exposed to some form of birth trauma, and that one in ten of these women develop post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their experience giving birth.
Physical birth trauma generally refers to injury caused during the birthing process. It could relate to:
- Urinary tears
- Pelvic floor muscle damage
- Pelvic organ prolapse (POP)
- Pelvic fractures (public bone, coccyx, sacrum)
- Cesarean incisions
Mental or psychological birth trauma could be:
- Depression after giving birth (PNDA)
- Post-partum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
What Is Being Done About Birth Trauma?
The key to acknowledging birth trauma is understanding it in the first place, and this is where many medical teams are lacking.
According to a report with ABC News, around one-third of women experience birth trauma to some extent, with training believed to be the best way to decrease those numbers.
Alecia Staines, the facilitator and director of the Maternity Consumer Network in Queensland, has begun a new training program (workshops) aimed at physicians and midwives. The program’s goals are to enhance outcomes for mothers and babies and to reduce the rates of birth trauma.
The workshops are run by Ms Staines and human rights lawyer Bashi Kumar-hazard. They teach midwives, obstetricians, and other health care workers about informed consent and the laws that protect patients’ right to bodily autonomy.
This is one way to get to the root of the problem, but what if you have already experienced trauma? Is there anything you can do about it?
How Can AJB Stevens Help You
Perhaps your birthing plan didn’t eventuate? There may have been labour complications, emergency intervention or assisted delivery, your baby may have required medical assistance right away, or perhaps the baby was stillborn, or either of you suffered as a result of birth injury. For example, C-sections are major surgeries that put the patient at a lot of risk and complications can occur. But even small problems, like stitches that aren’t done right, can cause too much scarring, leaving you feeling uncomfortable or unable to complete everyday tasks. Birth defects are also major problems that can affect your child for the rest of their life and could be caused by infection that could have been prevented or even routine procedures.
There are many reasons you may be experiencing birth trauma and it’s important you understand you may be entitled to compensation.
In many cases, the only way you can get assistance for your trauma is through counselling services, which may be offered by your local hospital. We highly recommend speaking with a midwife, or even your local GP if you are experiencing any kind of physical or mental repercussions.
On the other hand, if you believe your birth trauma is a result of medical negligence – when a doctor, nurse, or other medical worker fails to give adequate care that leads to preventable harm – that’s where AJB Stevens can help.
Although compensation won’t fix your or your child’s health if it was impacted by birth trauma, it can certainly give you access to money and services that may improve your quality of life. If you want to discuss your options, why not give our team a call today.